The past year has seen many changes in the way a business operates, especially in the way we work. The lockdowns have sparked a massive shift to remote working and now companies are turning to hybrid working models as the world is opening up again.
However, there is a growing problem with this new hybrid workforce model – the ever growing threat of cyber attacks, as new security risks and cyber attacks are not slowing down in any way. Cybercrime, which includes everything from theft and extortion to data breaches, has increased by 600% since the start of the global pandemic.
So how can IT ensure that they have security measures in place to protect not only corporate networks, but the information and data they contain?
It is imperative that organizations make sure that they are supporting employees in the best possible way from their remote locations. This means IT managers need to think about how they can manage and protect the corporate network. By doing this, IT teams can protect their corporate networks and the information they contain.
What does a typical home environment network look like?
Unsurprisingly, with many employees still working from home, large organizations depend on secure remote access to corporate virtual private networks (VPNs). To increase productivity, employees need easy access to corporate networks and go about their day-to-day business without being interrupted by network incidents.
The harsh reality is that cybercriminals are getting more sophisticated and employees working remotely are no longer protected in the same way they would be in a typical office LAN environment. As a result, cybercriminals take full advantage of the situation.
A typical home work environment is often a mixed-use localized network connecting corporate devices, which can include personal devices and shared accounts as well as vulnerable IoT applications. This type of network environment expands the “attack surface”, making it an easier target for cybercriminals. The top priority for IT managers then is to ensure that the organization is protected and that employees can work securely from their remote locations.
Whether employees choose to travel to the office or decide to work remotely, protecting them from cyber attacks comes first
Tactics to Consider When Protecting Remote Employees
First, educating employees about safe remote working practices is essential for a secure working environment and maintaining data privacy. For example, IT teams should consider sharing a manual with best practices, such as enabling two-factor authentication and requiring a VPN connection to applications and programs containing sensitive information. They should also consider setting up an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), so employees understand cybersecurity best practices, to avoid succumbing to potential threats.
If remote working cannot be limited to a VPN, then there is the risk of opening services directly to the internet for hackers to exploit. Any new Internet application should be planned, understood, tested and secured before and during its use. Businesses should always strive to strike a balance between the need for cybersecurity and the demand for a more accessible web-based, cloud-centric application environment.
Consider how remote users can locally access their key applications and data with minimal latency impact using a global secure remote access platform. The flexibility to increase the number of additional remote users as and when required through a simple business model per user seat should also be considered in the future.
Don’t forget the remote end user
So whether employees choose to travel to the office or decide to work remotely, protecting them from cyber attacks comes first. As hybrid work becomes a full-time practice, there needs to be flexibility in connecting to their business networks. By taking a âzero trustâ approach, enterprise ICT teams can make securing network infrastructure a top priority.
With a âzero trustâ approach, companies can plan their transition to the cloud, allowing employees to access their data wherever they are. Technologies such as Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA) technology help employees by opening access to corporate resources based on end-user and device identity, security level and agreed privileges. In turn, this enables effective access security while giving employees a choice of devices, including Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
To go further, organizations should implement the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) core network and end-user security features with software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) capabilities. This helps identify sensitive data requiring protection or any malicious malware, while simultaneously decrypting content in real time. These features are delivered and distributed through the cloud, which means remote employees can access them from anywhere.
With SASE, end users can quickly access what they need, no matter where they are. Additionally, IT managers can simultaneously maintain a zero trust approach across their network. Overall, with the added support of a managed service provider, employees can be protected and work efficiently, whether they are at home, in the office, or in a nearby cafe.